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Understanding Pre-school Curriculum

Want to share with all how the curriculum of preschool comes about.

Brand new centres with no well established franchise support will have no curriculum, especially if the owner has no experience in this field. If the principal is experienced, then she may have some ‘stolen’ materials from her ex centres to begin with. Teachers are told they have to do a particular theme in a particular month and then they are left to sink or float. If you see centres using photocopied materials from published / copyrighted assessment books (those available from Popular), their ‘curriculum’ usually falls into this category.

This category will have to struggle for about 5 years before they get some footing on a more concrete curriculum (if the owner / principal are responsible people, else, the preschool maybe forever using piece meal curriculum). If you visit a brand new centre and they tell you they have a curriculum, it’s plain BS. Close the door and the good teachers will struggle like mad (bad teachers will know how to live day by day until being caught…).

Centres with more than 5 years of history probably will have a framework to work around. Usually they embark on the easiest one which is the Thematic Approach. They have gathered enough of their teachers’ experience and contribution over the years to form their curriculum.

Centres with well established franchise support will take the curriculum from their franchisor. But some will follow and some will deviate from the main curriculum. Depending on how strong their franchisor is, they may receive warning for not following the curriculum or the franchisor may leave them as they are (close one eye).

It is very expensive to maintain a curriculum team. Such a team require one or two highly early childhhod trained curriculum writers, a worksheet designer, a someone with a strong English to vet all the materials, and a trainer (if the writer is not the trainer herself). All these people do not come cheap generally. Multiply this staff strength by two if Chinese curriculum is required.

The key problem with curriculum writing is it takes a long time of about 1 to 2 years to write for the 18 months to K2. Along the way, the writer may leave the company and be succeeded by another one. The new one may have different thinking/approach from the first one and she begins to write things that are not in congruence with the earlier part of the ex writer. This second one may leave half way and succeeded by a second new one and the problem of logic in the curriculum will therefore be greatly affected. Writing curriculum is a very stressful job and most educators can’t do them well as educators most of the time are creative i/o logical people but planning a curriulum entails a lot of logic as it has to map a child through one year and follow to the next year up to K2.

The max lifespan of a curriculum is about 5 years. After that, it may need a major overhaul as kids are getting smarter and smarter nowadays and materials need to change to challenge these smarter kids.

You will be surprised that some well known preschool chains do not have a full set of curriculum (Full set = one set of one year per level). Two particular chains actually instructed principals to look at teacher’s materials and take those for compilation into a ‘curriculum’. One particular chain has a curriculum that remains unchanged for the past 10 years. They can advertise agressively to position themselves as ‘branded’ but when you really look at their materials (unfortunately most parents don’t know how to assess curriculum), they are pathetic…

Forum discussion thread.


Hui Ming Child Development Center

Hi, my 5 year old boy is currently enrolled in this center since the age of 3. So far I do not have any complaints about this center.

It serves vegetarian food. But vacancies are fast filled. They are operating from 7am-7pm, Saturdays are half day.

I am clueless about curriculum

Hi insider,

What do you think the curriculum at st. james? The teachers don’t seem too dedicated but vacancies are filling up fast. I’m lost.


Childcare in Ang Mo Kio

Hi! I’m looking for a good child care center for my 4 year old daughter in AMK. Does anyone has any recommendation?

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